February 28, 2006
Candidate news from the Inbox:
US Rep. Zach Wamp may draw another challenger. Bob Smith is looking at a run for Congress in the US House 3rd District.
Chris Lugo is a possible addition to the US Senate race. He will be seeking to be nominated by the Green Party of Tennessee. The GP of TN holds its nominating convention this weekend (March 5, 2006).
More open seats in the General Assembly - Rep. Dewayne Bunch (R-24, Bradley County) is running for the State Senate in District 9, where Sen. Jeff Miller is stepping down. And Rep. Chris Crider (R-79, Gibson County) is reportedly weighing another run against some family concerns and isn't quite sure where that decision will lead him.
I Missed the Qualifying Deadline!!
Relax. I wasn't planning on running for a Hamilton County office. I wrote the title assuming the voice of would-have-been candidate Shirley Deakins, Independent, who planned to run for County Mayor.
According to Ian Berry's article in the new blogs section of tfpONLINE.com, Ms. Deakins claims she was told that, since she was not running in a party's primary, she would have until April 6 to qualify, instead of having to meet the February 16 deadline imposed on the partisans.
This would actually make sense. After all, non-partisan offices, such as General Sessions Judge and School Board, are only on the general election ballot -- and as such will use the April 6 qualifying deadline. By virtue of running as an Independent, Ms. Deakins would also have only appeared on the August general election ballot, so it would seem that she (and others) should also have until April 6 to qualify. The simple interpretation of the election calendar would be that the February deadline is for anyone that will appear in the May primary election, and the April deadline is for anyone whose first ballot appearance will be in August.
I really hope that Ms. Deakins wasn't in any way misinformed by my very erroneous post of February 16, 2006, in which I had originally written that the deadline had passed, but then got to thinking about it, using the above logic, and added a whole lot of boldface, orange baloney. I freely admit my mistake, but at the same time, I seriously question the Election Commission's rules on the matter.
The truth will come out sometime, as to whether Ms. Deakins misunderstood or was misinformed; but the task at hand is to work on changing these rules so that if a candidate will not be in one of these nominating "elections" that the taxpayers so generously underwrite for the duopoly, that candidate should not be held to that pre-election's qualifying deadline. That seems reasonable enough, doesn't it? Especially considering the non-partisan races that are in the same general election? The only thing to think about next is whether or not there should be yet another deadline created, this for the state and federal general elections, that would be for Independent candidates not participating in the August primaries. Again, I think the simple method works: the April deadline should be for candidates appearing in the August election. Set a July-ish deadline for Independents in the November election.
By the way, I'll comment on the new online features at the Times Free Press some other time.
This just in, from blogger Rob Huddleston:
Rob Huddleston, a Knoxville-based attorney who has been contemplating running for Congress in the 1st District of Tennessee, has decided that he will not run for the seat in 2006.
I'm fairly sure that Knoxville is in the 2nd District. I don't know if it's a requirement to live in the congressional district one seeks to serve, but I don't think it would hurt.
Ah, well. Best of luck to Rob as he pursues other opportunities.
February 27, 2006
Appointments Should Not Usurp Electoral Power
Our good local government reporters at the daily paper, Ian Berry and Herman Wang, wrote several articles for its Sunday edition that deal with how recent vacancies will be filled.
The primary article contrasts the City Council's decision to avoid appointing a candidate this close to an election with the County Commission's stated intent of considering candidates first. The issue is reported fairly neutrally, which is the right thing to do there; but over here on this blog, I have the opportunity to come out against the County Commission's method. I'm taking that opportunity. I agree with Councilmember Sally Robinson, who says that if the City Council had appointed one of the four candidates seeking to fill Yusuf Hakeem's shoes, it "would have given the incumbent candidate an unfair advantage in the election." I applaud the Council for its wise decision.
I do not think that either Brian Caldwell or Warren Mackey should be appointed at this time to William Cotton's former seat. I think the voters in District 4 need to decide between these able men on August 3, but not with one of them having the incumbent edge. That just doesn't seem fair to either of them.
I understand Floyd Kilpatrick's concerns: appointments made without sufficient public input can effectively disenfranchise the people. The comedy of errors that was the replacement process for former School Board member Charles Love was of course referenced in this story. Commissioner Curtis Adams reminded us that it "took seven votes" to install Jeffrey Wilson; but Adams either declined or missed an opportunity to remind us that it was William Cotton, the subject of the current replacement activity, who was the culprit behind the repeat failures to conclude the School Board matter.
In fact, this whole thing is William Cotton's fault, now that I think about it. If he hadn't [allegedly, I know] cheated in the 2002 primary, Warren Mackey would already be Commissioner. Replacing Charles Love wouldn't have been so difficult, and we wouldn't have needed to replace a District 4 Commissioner.
Ah, but that's all wishful thinking. The fact remains that an appointment should be made. I hope those who agree with me will join me in asking their County Commissioners to reconsider appointing a "caretaker" who is not a qualified candidate, and thus letting the people have an unbiased choice in the August election.
Sheriff Candidates Speak Tomorrow
There are to be two opportunities on Tuesday, February 28, to hear candidates for Hamilton County Sheriff speak their minds.
The first is presented by Talk 102.3 FM at 10:00 AM EST. The number to call if you'd like to interact directly is (423) 267-1023.
The second chance to hear the candidates is at a forum Tuesday evening (6:00 PM) at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) in Grote Hall.
Thanks to DFC for the info.
February 26, 2006
Saint Paul of the Walls with Holes In Them for Shooting Out Arrows and Such
February 29, 2004 : Part of the original wall surrounding St-Paul-de-Vence, Côte d'Azur
One would never know it now. The inhabitants of tiny St-Paul-de-Vence show no signs of being armed against certain attack. Heck, they're almost all artists. These are painters, mostly, drawn by the region's natural light. (I'm sure the éclat that comes from being associated with an artist colony holds a bit of appeal as well.) They're a far cry from their forebears, who ostensibly sought a defensive position against marauding hordes who gave meaning to the term "mediaeval on your ass."
Most sources say that the fortification came sometime in the 13th century, though the town had been around for a couple hundred years by that point. Who were the attackers? Some say the answer is relevant to current events in Europe and around the world today. These were the Moors, and they invaded southern Europe via North Africa, starting in the 8th century. They weren't sent back to North Africa for about another eight hundred years.
The Crusades are important, but are only one part of the long history of Muslim-Christian "relations" in Europe. It's easy to see how religion has played such a central role in life itself when one climbs the steep streets of this now-posh place and finds the ancient church at the very top, its walls and crypt clutching the crest, the last holdout. The Spanish missions of the American Southwest are much the same concept. After all, the Spanish Jesuits learned defense for pretty much exactly the same reason as the did these French papists.
The art was amazing to behold, and not always for its aesthetic properties. We met one entrepreneurial fellow whose commercial stuff is, we all tacitly acknowledged, just pretty junk. His "art" is that of wooing large buyers who gobble up shipping crates full of his sunny scenes and sell them to upscale developers and homeowners from Miami to Malibu. He was such a pleasant person -- and who wouldn't be, with a schedule like his?
There was also to be found art both academically accepted and real, however. This is the place of Marc Chagall's tomb, and Matisse sat in the next town over. The wife and I were checking out galleries down near the cemetery when we found "the one." I don't know how to describe the works of Joëlle Lalague, but they drew both of us in, and instantly. And then we met her. I typically err on the side of skepticism, but I except this person as one who sees into the Universe. Her paintings throb, breathe, and live. She took a liking to her besneakered American fans, it seemed. Using my stuttered French and her halting English, the three of us chatted about her organic approach to Art; our pregnancy; her assertion that art itself is born of another kind of womb, and she's just the midwife; and our awe of her having been shown alongside Pablo Picasso.
I'm sure many people I know would pooh-pooh the current state of St-Paul-de-Vence, what with its richer-than-life aura and everything. There was, after all, a whole shop for olive oil, and I don't think you could get out of there for under fifty euro. I do think St-Paul-de-Vence a necessary testament to the noble, if fleeting, idea that peace and beauty can triumph over religious hate wars and dogma-fueled destruction.
February 24, 2006
Recent Ballot Preview Updates
Here are some changes that I've recently made on the site's supplemental pages:
Chattanooga: Listed the four candidates who qualified for the May 2 special election to replace former Council member Yusuf Hakeem.
Hamilton County: Moved any former "potential" candidates who did not qualify to the "inactive" bucket for each position. Note, the 4th District qualifying period has been extended due to former Commissioner William Cotton's departure. Also note: the General Sessions Judge and School Board positions are non-partisan, so their qualifying deadline is April 6.
TN House: Added William James "CoolJim" Boyd as an active candidate in District 58; Joshua Evans in District 66; Cindy McGill in District 14; Pete Drew (so he went back to Knoxville) in District 15; several candidates for Jere Hargrove's District 42 seat; and several candidates in District 96, where Paul Stanley is leaving to run for the State Senate. Removed Joe Towns, Jr. as a potential candidate in District 84, since he has entered the race for U.S. House of Representatives in District 9. Same for Henri Brooks in District 92, as she is apparently running for the Shelby County Commission, and for David Davis, District 6, as he is running for Congressman Bill Jenkins' District 1 seat. Realized that I seriously need to update the info for District 22, since that special election was well over a month ago. I'm assuming that Eric Watson will run for re-election.
US House: Added Sullivan County Mayor Richard Venable as a declared candidate in District 1; Tom Kovach as a declared candidate in District 5; Jeff Greer and Bill Morrison as declared, and Mike Heidingsfield as potential, in District 7; and just go scroll down the huge lists for District 9.
US Senate: Added Chattanooga attorney and perennial candidate (for something or other) John Wolfe as a potential. There are questions as to whether he'd challenge Ford and Kurita in the Dem primary or run as an Indy. Either way, it's possible he'll pick up at least a local Green Party endorsement.
TN Governor: This is also the page where any ballot initiatives or referenda are listed. As such, I have indicated that the proposed amendment to ban gay marriage (or whatever it would really do) will be a ballot choice this November 7. I'm also preparing an all-out assault on this ill-advised measure. More to come on that.
Here's the thing: I am well aware that these pages need some serious renovation in terms of layout and style. They're sitting on a half-finished CSS file. It's also glaringly obvious that I'm way behind on gathering data about some of these elections, particularly for the 116 General Assembly seats. I'm a busy person, so thanks for your patience. I welcome your comments and e-mails. You can help to make this site a valuable resource by sending me information and suggestions.
Quit Meth - Hook Up with Hot Singles Instead!
I hate typographical errors. We all make them, and miss them in our proofreading efforts; and some of us are less concerned than others seem to be. I tend to feel slightly grimy upon discovering that I've committed one.
This typo, however, made me smile just a little bit.
February 23, 2006
All Along the Waterfront
Chattanoogan.com, the Pulse Blog, and Adrienne have all posted on the City's proposal to start charging user fees for waterfront facilities, and to hand over management of the facilities to Friends of the Festival.
I'm adding my voice to those questioning this decision (and the one to put Riverbend in charge of GoFest!). Let me make it clear: by "questioning" I do not mean "opposing." I mean, let's ask the right questions and come to conclusions based on their answers.
Democrats' Darling: Nikki?
CQPolitics.com ran a post Tuesday on the congressional race that will decide U.S. Rep. Harold Ford, Jr.'s successor.
The gist is that good early fundraising and an EMILY's List endorsement may not be enough to boost airline attorney Nikki Tinker into the Democratic nominee's -- and thus, surely, the general election winner's -- spot. Tinker's trouble is supposedly embodied in two high-profile Memphis names. One is Shelby County Commissioner Julian Bolton, the other is State Senator Steve Cohen. The former has declared his interest in the seat; the latter has not.
This particular election continues to intrigue and enlighten me. I really don't know a lot about Memphis politics. Nikki Tinker seems to be well-connected to Ford's fundraising apparatus. That can only be advantageous, it would seem. Another candidate, Ed Stanton, won a January straw poll, and has raised close to Tinker's total.
Then there's another candidate -- Tyson Pratcher -- who has his own "friends in high places." Pratcher was, until very recently, a member of the Hillary Clinton organization. If I were any one of the other candidates in the 9th district, I'd keep an eye on Tyson.
Rep. Paul Stanley Will Run for State Senate
There are already contenders for the 96th House seat. Brad Jobe, Mitchell Morrison, Colin Richmond, Kenneth Scroggs, Jr., and Brent Siler have all pulled petitions. To my knowledge, only Jobe has returned a completed petition.
If you know of additional potential candidates for either seat, leave a comment or send me an e-mail.
February 22, 2006
A Half-Full Glass of Port
I may be the only one, but I think that the hubbub over this whole DP World port operations transaction is much ado about not much. I won't say it's "nothing," because there are some interesting connections into the deal from our current administration. It's not as big a deal as the cartoon-riot-fueled media and their eager puppies in the [election year!] Congress are making it out to be, though. And there is more than a whiff of a discriminatory attitude surrounding the opposition.
More to come, if I feel like it; but the above might just say everything I need to say about this.
February 21, 2006
Why Should You Care About the Tennessee Waltz?
[Cross-posted from the February 15, 2006 Pulse -- click the link to see the article with pictures and published citizen reactions]
Rebuilding Trust: A lesson in triple meter
REMEMBER THE NIGHT
A two-year investigation by Federal and state law enforcement personnel culminated in shocking arrests last May that jolted many to attention. In less than a year’s time, that attention has waned, and was only somewhat rekindled by the special legislative session on ethics. The 2006 election cycle is well underway, and chances are ominously good that a typical number of Tennesseans will amble to the polls and mindlessly pull for Mr. or Ms. Same-Old without a look back at Operation Tennessee Waltz.
State lawmakers being handcuffed and taken into custody at the start of a legislative workday made for big news. The ensuing buzz about “more arrests coming” held some inquisitive types’ interest until those arrests did surely come. By the time that Shelby County Commission Chairman Michael Hooks, Sr., was indicted, Waltz news was generally greeted with a group yawn. If one of the aforementioned inquisitive types broaches the subject now, reactions can vary from quizzical looks to signs of faint recognition to blank stares.
It’s understandable that people decline to dwell on the subject. For one thing, the state song – a beautifully plaintive, bittersweet tune that embodies most of what’s wrong and all of what’s right with country music – has been sullied. How dare they? For another, the story has garnered mention in the national press, and that’s embarrassing for some. One local elected official, Signal Mountain Council member Bob Linehart, says that he believes the arrests contributed to cynicism in a lasting way. Could it be that for most, though, it is the habitual lack of any involvement in their government that leads to apathy on this one rather grave topic?
WHO ALL WERE DANCIN’?
Citizens with official involvement in their government likely have a much higher WAQ factor (Waltz Awareness Quotient). The Operation’s aftershocks surely contained many a nail-biting moment behind closed doors of certain offices. For whatever reasons, some were passed over. It would be difficult, to say the least, to convince any but the most gullible that the FBI sting rounded up all of the bad officials and left a purified government behind. Investigators say they were called in as a result of formal complaints from several General Assembly members. History might suggest that the situation has to have become fairly foul for something that akin to tattling to occur.
One visible reaction to the spate of federal indictments started at the top. Governor Phil Bredesen appointed an advisory board and charged it with collecting a list of reform measures from citizens and subject matter experts. Meanwhile, a joint legislative committee was named by House and Senate leaders. The Legislative Ethics Committee would be responsible for receiving the advisory group’s proposals and crafting legislation from them. The Governor called the General Assembly into special session in January; the bickering began; the bickering continued; a totally new ethics package was introduced at the last minute; and this replacement bill was tweaked and quickly approved by both chambers. Many said that the revision bore a seal of approval from lobbyists and special interests. Still, the compromise creates an independent ethics commission and some new disclosure requirements, among other reforms.
Disclosure improvements and campaign finance strictures are not fresh ideas in Winter 2006. Some provisions included in the new ethics bill were proposed during the 2005 session and in previous years, but were never enacted. Rep. Frank Buck, a Democrat from DeKalb County, sponsored several ethics-related bills that got killed in subcommittee last year. The subcommittee’s chairman is Rep. Ulysses Jones of Memphis. Jones is one of several legislators who met with supposed E-Cycle representatives or their “bagmen” on one or more occasions and who accepted cash from them, but who have not been charged with any wrongdoing.
MY FRIEND STOLE…FROM ME
While several of the impending criminal court proceedings have been postponed for some months, at least one is underway. Hamilton County Commissioner William Cotton’s trial on extortion charges was set to begin on Tuesday. The trials themselves present an opportunity for restoring some of the awareness that has faded. Tennesseans ought to care enough to watch over the process of administering justice.
Another aspect to keep in focus is a “what-if” exercise concerning the verdicts. All three of the money couriers have admitted to passing bribes: one (Tim Willis) was consciously working with the FBI, and the other two (Charles Love and Barry Myers) entered guilty pleas. Former Representative Chris Newton pleaded guilty to accepting bribes. It is easily surmised that exoneration for the remaining accused legislators under such circumstances is a long shot at best, but such a surmising undermines the foundation of our legal system. The onus is on the prosecution to present the evidence of guilt with unquestionable clarity.
In addition to meting out the appropriate punishment to perpetrators, it is good to recognize the potential deterrent effect the Tennessee Waltz trials will generate. Bribes for legislative favor weren’t the only breaches of public trust committed in Tennessee last year. There were several resignations in the executive branch, most notably from the Department of Safety as scandal after scandal bubbled up from the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The special election to replace the lead target in Operation Tennessee Waltz, former Senator John Ford, was wrought with fraud – dead people’s names on ballots – and inexplicable behavior by election officials. The Mayor of Clarksville has been under attack for allegedly unethical business dealings. Several Chattanooga employees were recently accused of stealing from taxpayers.
All of these unconnected events are nonetheless unified by the trust theme, and if it becomes clear that the citizens will not tolerate their trust being toyed with, perhaps additional crimes will be avoided.
KNOW JUST HOW MUCH WE’VE LOST (AND WORK HARD TO GET IT BACK)
Merely keeping up with the trials, and remembering the infamous acts from which they stem, are not sufficient to qualify as citizen actions. There are two crucial items that define a just response: the more critical and simpler one is casting an informed vote, and the not-so-simple-but-ever-important one is volunteering to serve in public elected office. Bob Linehart thinks it “important for people to sacrifice some personal time to serve in public office and on commissions to serve their communities. The work [government officials] do for the public may be somewhat mundane, but it is essential work that does enrich the lives of people within the community.”
A well-known sound byte from last year’s developments is that the exchange of money for undemocratic advantage in the people’s business had been “business as usual.” If or when Tennesseans absorb and understand the probability that there remain potential criminals in office, surely they will rectify the situation by using the most powerful cleaning agent in the world (if used properly): the free, fair vote.
How does the voter know when to join in the ouster of an incumbent? Councilman Linehart proposes a formula: “[pay] attention to their public servant’s character, their actions, and their words. If [these] aren’t consistent, they should vote them out of office…I hope the public does pay close attention to the Waltz trials, condemn the guilty for what they are, and then are able to move on to the truly important work our current public servants and the ones who will be elected in 2006 have to do on our behalf.”
No amount of ethics legislation will work if there are untrustworthy persons in office. The Tennessee government’s response to the apparent crisis heralded by Operation Tennessee Waltz was fairly expected, but some question just how necessary. The situation will only change as the voters instruct, and only if those voters elicit quality candidates from among themselves to choose.
The [Tennessee Coalition for Open Government] found 115 alleged violations between January 2003 and October 2005, including an average of one a week for the first 10 months of last year.
Violations of what, you ask? Why, the outdated open government law of 1974, says this Columbia Daily Herald article. Before you become too agitated, let me remind you that the "one a week" average from last year includes only local governments, so these weren't General Assembly meetings. However, it is disturbing that over a third of the complaints were filed by members of the governing body that held the secret meeting. In other words, “'[s]ome members were meeting and others weren’t being told about the meetings.'”
Let us hope that the current bipartisan effort toward transparent government results in a good law that will provide citizens their rightful information without placing undue burdens on those attempting to manage the mundane.
In a perfect world, open government would be voluntary and automatic; but apparently in Tennessee, we need good laws to support the principle.
(HT: Political State Report)
Special Needs: County Schools Found Delinquent
I haven't seen much written about an AP story that appeared in yesterday's Knoxville paper, so I'll kick it off. This is a local story, and it deserves a serious discussion. (I don't take the local paper except weekends, and I find its website to be less than tolerable most days,* so if it was published there I don't know about it.)
Nutshell: Hamilton County schools were supposed to have been providing special education services to County Jail inmates who qualify, but apparently that hasn't been happening. The state (Department of Education) has stepped in and mandated that the services be resumed. HCDE, for its part, maintains an arm's-length "we offered, but they told us they were taking care of it" posture; furthermore, the well-known overcrowding at the county jail seems to have deterred educators for security reasons. Sheriff's Department officials were covering basic and GED classes, but nothing for special ed. It's a classic case of "oh, but I thought they were with you."
Now, the hard part: filling the gap. The school system says that it will hire/train teachers, but is sending them into the existing jail, with its current conditions, the right approach? If we wait until a new jail is built, hopefully with adequate safeguards and facilities, what happens to the youthful inmates who require these services in the meantime?
Education is a tough enough issue taken all together, but education for the mentally challenged presents its own problems. In addition, I'm all for being "tough on crime," but we need to look more broadly at some systemic solution options for where the factors behind the crime include a compromised capacity or mental illness. You know, it's the old "an ounce of prevention.." adage.
I don't want to be the only one talking on this subject, though; your ideas?
*Ironically, I take the paper on weekends so that I will have access to said intolerable website.
Get Your Kicks in District 66
A reader e-mailed to say that Joshua G. Evans, a Republican, will run for the open seat being vacated by longtime Representative Gene Davidson.
It seems a given that the GOP primary winner in this race will receive a lot of attention (i.e., cash) from the state Republican Party. More on the two major parties' legislature election strategies at the Tennessee Politics Blog.
February 20, 2006
Blog Your Local Elections
Hey, I do blog local races! So do these guys, and there are undoubtedly others. (I'm talking about Chattanooga/Hamilton, and I know that you local-election bloggers are out there in Knox, Shelby, Williamson, Davidson, etc.) 2006 is our year to step up, though, and to truly augment the media with in-depth and interactive (a key distinction from "MSM") discussion.
Won't you join me?
No Prison Term for Me, but Thanks for Asking
I had a fairly similar reaction to that of Phil Ayres (whom I've never met, even blog-wise, but whose Tennessee Talk is an up-and-coming conservative thistle in TN's blogpatch) to the news that former Rep. Chris Newton is begging for a non-incarcerating sentence.
I do sense a human side to this story, and it's very tragic. Mr. Newton's mother is ill, and he is at least a part-time caregiver; furthermore, Mr. Newton is undergoing financial difficulties, and claims that prison time would simply undo his fiscal well-being.
That's all horrible and everything, but perhaps he should have considered those things before he took the money. Just a thought.
Promote Your Favorite Blogs to Government Types
Michael Silence is asking for input as to which politics-oriented blogs should be read regularly by our (Tennessee) elected officials, and why.
Be sure to make your opinion known.
February 18, 2006
What's Going to Happen in County District 4?
Soon after Commissioner Cotton was indicted, several of his colleagues indicated support for Warren Mackey in the event of a conviction. That event has indeed occurred.
Mackey had qualified for the May 2 primary and now defaults to being the Democrat in the general election against Republican candidate Brian Caldwell.
It seems that this situation would warrant the temporary appointment of one not interested in seeking the office in the 2006 election. Does anyone know what the rules are for this? I'm sheepishly ignorant, but happy to learn.
February 17, 2006
Mistrial Declared in THP Honorary Badge Case
Story here (BugMeNot recommended).
Now, my take: I think it'd be hard not to declare a mistrial when the lawyers are bringing in witnesses who dress themselves in WWII-era pilot uniforms.
Another witness dressed in a World War II-era pilot uniform testified he sees public traffic in the area when he flies his vintage model aircraft there.
It took me until the second read to notice the word "model" in that sentence. At first I thought, Okay, the guy is really into flying vintage aircraft, so he dresses the part (even when he goes to testify in court). Weird enough. But when he is showing up in court dressed that way and is a model aircraft "pilot" -- where's [former Chattanooga City Judge] Walter Williams when you need him? And who knows what else the witness "sees" when he's out there? Blind justice, indeed.
Time to Make the Doughnuts
There are twelve more hungry officers on the Chattanooga Police Department's roster as of last night.
Congratulations are due all of the men and women who made it through what I understand was a tough academy, but a heartfelt hurrah goes to one in particular. He's my little sister's husband and so there's a risk of bias here, but I really believe he'll be an exemplary officer.
We owe our public safety officers—not only police, but firefighters and EMS personnel (and, if you think about it in a future sense, teachers)—a lot. Protecting an urban gathering even of this rather modest size is a huge job and, even though I am first among critics when cops misbehave and/or abuse their authority, I recognize the demands that are made on our fellow citizens in these lines of work.
February 16, 2006
David Davis Declares, Davidson Declines
Stay tuned for candidates in Davis' 6th District House seat, which is obviously now open. I'll also add all the potential candidates for TN-1 to the US House Ballot Preview page as soon as I can. There's no need to write about them all here as well, I figure. Adam Groves and Bob Krumm have covered that part, not to mention two of the potential candidates themselves: bloggers Conservatore Dall'est (er, Vance Cheek) and Rob Huddleston. (Vance Cheek has taken down his blog, but his final post can be seen at TeamGOP.)
It's Too Late, Baby
The 2006 qualifying deadline for most Hamilton County elected positions was an hour ago (noon on 2/16).
They almost had me tricked! Today wasn't the deadline to turn in papers as a candidate in the county election. Today was merely the deadline for those wishing to qualify for a party primary. Granted, almost all of the candidates announced thus far have declared party affiliations, so they did need to turn in their paperwork by today.
As I have kept an eye on the developments (scattered throughout many posts on Chattanoogan.com and in a few TFP articles, and more or less collected here), I have noticed that quite a few incumbent officials will may not be challenged.
I had meant to say more about that, but the date has arrived already and so it's "too late" in that sense as well.
Oh, well. There is always the opportunity for a good write-in campaign.
The qualifying deadline for independent candidates in Hamilton County is April 6. There is plenty of time to make sure there are challengers. Don't get me wrong; I don't want challengers just for the sake of waking incumbents into interactivity with their constituents. No, wait. Do get me wrong. I do want that.
Having choices is a good thing, even if or when we are perfectly satisfied with the job someone is doing. Being satisfied is markedly different from being complacent. It must mean more to the candidate, too, whose fair win over a reasonable challenge validates the assumption that the people approve. If you are the only choice, I'm not sure that validation feels as complete.
There is a truckload of political news from across the state today. More to come.
February 15, 2006
State House Candidate Announcement
Rob Huddleston already posted this, so go visit his VOLuntarily Conservative blog for details.
Jim Boyd announced his candidacy for the Tennessee House of Representatives. I have added his name to the appropriate page.
Does anyone have information on incumbent Rep. Mary Pruitt's status? Is she planning to run?
February 14, 2006
Second, I promise to never use the word "tidbit" or any variant thereof again.
Here are a few of the things that have accumulated in the temp folder since the weekend:
Washington County GOP's Lincoln Day Dinner made quite a splash with its straw poll. Like Nathan Moore, I'm a little surprised and informed by Van Hilleary's weak support. He received 52 votes to Bob Corker's 81, and Ed Bryant's 85. I don't possess intimate knowledge of East Tennessee Republicans like, say, Conservatore dall'est does. The Jim Henry angle helps explain things. I wasn't surprised by Bob Corker's extremely close second. Perhaps Corker hasn't been as well known in parts of the state, but when people meet him they quickly recognize his ability and drive, and he rapidly gains support. Mr. Evans was evidently pleased with the results.
Hamilton County is the site of Commissioner William Cotton's federal extortion trial, which begins right about now is probably underway, I suppose. Chattanoogan.com aims to keep us updated throughout the day.
Chattanooga will become host to a new Drinking Liberally chapter as of this Thursday. Also from the nice folks at Democracy for Chattanooga, we have a Sheriff Candidates Forum:
Plans for the Sheriff’s Candidates Forum held in cooperation with Hamilton Voters’ Council are well on the way. The event will be held at UTC’s University Center Auditorium, Feb. 28th at 6pm. All qualified candidates have been invited to attend.
All of Tennessee (and many more) will feel the impact of TVA's recent rate decision. Read about it here if you want to get "steamed."
Out in the rest of the world, things look pretty awful sometimes.
Roy Moore Watch
I know this is not a Tennessee election, but it is in one of our most neighborly of neighbor states -- and the more power and attention this guy gets, the more often he comes to Tennessee. Therefore, to me, this is good news:
ALABAMA - Governor Bob Riley (R) holds a wide lead over GOP primary rival Roy Moore, according to a new Mobile Register-University of South Alabama survey. Riley now leads by a vote of 56% to 28%. It is also the first time Riley has passed the important 50% mark.
February 12, 2006
Snow in Vence
February 28, 2004 : Courtyard of Hôtel Diana, Vence, Côte d'Azur, from heated balcony
We dismounted the bus from Nice and headed for the tourism bureau. Its staff had been so pleasant to work with via e-mail and fax, I wanted to meet them in person.
On the way up from the coast, we had noticed unusually dark clouds approaching, so we had already gotten out our jackets. Just as we got oriented in the town square, the air temperature dropped suddenly and huge icy pellets started falling all around us. Hail, right? So I thought, but I soon noticed that it was snow. Wet flakes had clumped together during their fall. It was raining little snowballs.
We ducked inside the tourism office, where we were greeted by two friendly but wide-eyed government workers. They were staring out the front window. One of them pointed in no specific direction and said, in English, "what is that?!" (The wife and I have some theories as to how folks were able to so immediately spot us as Americans, but that's a different travelblog entry.) This is the Mediterranean coast, and even in Winter, they do not usually experience snow. They can look up at the Maritime Alps and see all the snow they want; if they travel some, les Alpes proper have scads of it. Not down in the coastal region. It doesn't belong.
The tourism officials began to eye us suspiciously. After all, none of this had been going on until we arrived. It had been a perfectly sunny day, so even rain would have been a surprise; but here it had snowed, not just flakes but thick, splatty gobs, within minutes of even a cloud darkening the sky; and here were two foreigners who obviously expected some kind of weather by the way they were geared up for it. No one else was walking around with waterproof protective clothing.
Happily, it did not take long to "melt the ice," if you will, with the tourism personnel, and one of them even called around to find us a hotel. (Yes, I know they work for commission, but it felt like someone was doing you a favor.) We had survived the all-night journey by train from Florence (remember, we were eating pizza in Siena just the day before), and were ready for some sleep even though it was the middle of the afternoon. The surprise snow was gone when we woke up, but the cold front was there to stay a while. The whole town had headed indoors and would only venture out with heavy coats. The matronly desk clerk had some advice about my attire as we headed out to find dinner: in her endearing accent, she declared "it is not enough."
February 10, 2006
Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes - Lawmakers turn and face the strain (of honesty)
[Cross-posted from the Pulse.]
There will be major changes to the Tennessee General Assembly in 2006. Unfortunately, I’m not referring to any that might be brought about by the new ethics bill. (More on that below.) These changes will likely be in the August body’s leadership. State Senator Don McLeary (from Humboldt, in West Tennessee) is now openly Republican. He came out on Friday. Members of the Democratic community were shocked, but they were the only ones. Everyone else knew, especially by the time McLeary voted with Republicans on the measure to unseat Ophelia Ford. But the signs were there all along: the hair, the pachyderm affectations, the showtunes. Wait, scratch that last one; I must have mixed up my stories.
The number of seats by which the Republicans hold a majority in the State Senate increased 100 percent with McLeary’s move. They were 17 to 16, and now have 18 to the Democrats’ 15. (Two of those 15 are Ward Crutchfield and Kathryn Bowers, but they would likely be replaced by other Democrats if they were, I dunno, convicted of something in a federal courtroom.)
Typically speaking, the majority party elects the leadership of each house. Democrats have controlled the House of Representatives for well over a century, and their Speaker is Rep. Jimmy Naifeh of Covington. Since the Republicans have a majority in the State Senate, the Speaker of the Senate (who is also the Lieutenant Governor) is… wait, he’s a Democrat. John Wilder has held this dual post – the second-highest elected office in the state – since 1971. A few Republicans have backed his re-election after their party gained the majority and thus could have placed their own leader in the position. There’s no guarantee that the McLeary switch would change the status quo.
Don McLeary is not the only one making changes, though. Senator Curtis Person, Jr. is no stranger to the legislature himself. The Memphian has been trucking to Nashville some 40 years. He and Lt. Gov. Wilder, therefore, go “way back.” Since Person has announced that he will not run for re-election, and since Rep. Paul Stanley (I love having KISS members in government) has all but announced his intent to replace Person, and since Stanley would be much less likely to support Wilder, the buzz on the blogs is that Wilder may stay one graceful step ahead of imminent demise and step down himself. There has been no shortage of the inevitable “dominoes” comparison on these same blogs.
If the Republicans end up with full control the State Senate, complete with the Lieutenant Governorship, you can expect a different dynamic in what will almost assuredly be Phil Bredesen’s second term. Maybe this is why the GOP hasn’t put up a candidate against him; perhaps they figured that the two Senates (Tennessee and United States) comprised enough of a project.
Four, and Twenty Backpedals: An ethics compromise, or compromised ethics?
Yes, about those ethics. Suddenly a brand-new bill showed up at the eleventh hour, and it got the thumbs-up from the leadership while the former working copy kept getting bogged down. The bill went to conference committee (12 each from the House and Senate to craft a unified version) and passed quickly. Four Democratic State Senators dissented, though. They contend that the new laws’ impacts that would actually affect reform are less than what they could have been. The compromise bill will have been voted on by press time, so you know the outcome by now.
State House Majority Leader Kim McMillan (D-Clarksville), quoted in the Tennessean: “Who we listen to are people who elected us: our constituents. I think this [ethics] bill represents their interests and not [those of] any individual lobbyist.” The inclusion of the word “individual” in her statement is not clever, but it works as a CYA tool. No, an individual lobbyist probably cannot say that this ethics bill specifically represents his or her interests; but a fair amount of the amendments that watered down the bill were written by lobbyists, and were agreed to in secret meetings. Knowing that should give one pause on the whole “representing the constituents” claim.
Tennessee was recently ranked 45th in a nonpartisan study of state ethics laws. The Operation Tennessee Waltz arrests, though they were for alleged infractions of existing law, prompted our lawmakers into action. The result could have been sweeping reform of the “business as usual” that would have propelled our state to a national leadership position. As it is turning out, one might hope for us to break 40.
I’ll end on a positive note, however, and acknowledge that this is a start. It’s understandably not easy to quickly alter systemic corruption that has been compared to the proverbial “temple of moneychangers.” We have to do it the fair way, and all that means is that we can’t quit now. Get to know your representatives’ records on this issue, and not just how they participated in the final vote. (I can’t see a single solitary one voting against an ethics bill.) No, learn their special-interest-coziness quotients, their historical positions when similar legislation has been proposed without a federal bribery sting behind it, and their family and other connections. Take that information with you when you vote on August 3 and November 7.
February 9, 2006
Wherein TennesseeTicket Is Attacked
Well, now. It seems that I have inadvertently gone and upset a Van Hilleary supporter. That's fine — as has been repeated often in these days of cartoons and protests, in America we have the right to be offended.
Let's be clear: I'm not offended. The more links to my pages, the better; and I welcome diverse and adverse opinions to boot.
I think it only fair, though, to offer an explanation of some data that was recently viewed, and from which some perceptions were apparently generated. I'll do so in a general explanation of the entire suite of supplemental pages to this blog.
You see, there are these "Ballot Preview" pages I made. My aim with them is to provide information on what names might appear in front of voters when they elect Tennessee's Governor, Congressional delegation, and General Assembly — and, for my local community, officials and judges in Hamilton County and Chattanooga. Obviously, a goal in providing information is to make sure that information is not misleading, and is as accurate as possible. I aim for that goal.
Over time, blog posts and newspaper articles/columns have been published that suggest one politician or another is thinking about a race, could have a chance in a race, or has actually made overtures toward a race. I have collected such information and have published it as desired on my website. As more comes to light, sometimes I don't make it back to delete, strike through, or move the original content as soon as the change occurs.
Therefore, the sections on the Ballot Preview pages that hold potential candidates (each is indicated by question mark list bullets) are really a time-lapse compilation, of sorts, of all the candidates who were at one time even dreamed of, in terms of running for that office. If I see something published that unequivocally declares someone out of a race, and if I have time, I move the candidate in question to the inactive list (indicated by circle list bullets, italic type, grey background). Case in point: I read today that a candidate I have listed as declared has dropped out of the race he had entered. I didn't have a chance to update the page at the time; so I have to go find the article again and make sure I capture the information correctly. But I haven't done it yet. Why don't you go ahead and call me to the carpet on that one, too, Mr. Badger? Is that "pathetic" enough for you?
The paranoia revealed in the attack is much more telling about its author than it is about its target. I have never purported this site to be a "respectable journalistic organization." I'm not even sure what that phrase means. (Ergo I don't have much hope for getting "papably upsurd.") I am an avid observer, a joe six-pack citizen who posts and writes what he chooses and when he has time. I am dedicated to quality, and I believe that's what I offer. I do sense that I may need to re-think some "packaging" elements of the site, so that people come away with information they had sought and not with any accompanying misperceptions. Apologies all around for any of that.
So, to all Van Hilleary supporters (and, for that matter, detractors and the completely uninterested too), my displaying citations, references, or allusions to various published data about your favorite candidate is in no way meant to misconstrue, nor is it meant to damage the campaign. I want it well known that I root for all candidates, but I cheer especially loudly for the ones I happen to think will do the best job. I want to personally thank Ed Bryant, Bob Corker, U.S. Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., Bo Heyward, Van Hilleary, John Jay Hooker, Senator Rosalind Kurita, and Jeff Moder for stepping up and running for this United States Senate seat. I also want to thank anyone who thought about it for just thinking about it. It's awesome.
I'll make my best effort at going back through the scores of positions for which I'm attempting to maintain data and clearing up any misleading content. I have taxes to do, though, so don't hold your breath.
And in the meantime, pay attention to the declared candidate listings. That's the ballot preview. The other is really historical information, and yes, some of that is suspect. Someday Van will be showing as an inactive candidate (meaning: either dropped out or never was interested in the first place) in those two races that he's not in. I hope that day is soon. And I hope my distinguished critic is able to regain his good humor.
Independent Candidate for Sheriff
He's not a new candidate. Dave Alverson had already qualified for the ballot as a Republican, but now has re-declared without the party affiliation. (As his transition was becoming known, he got disinvited from a speaking engagement at the Pachyderm Club.)
February 8, 2006
Breaking Item Plus A Midweek Wrap-up
The hottest, freshest news is that another Democrat in the State Government may soon switch parties. More from Brian Hornback.
More in a few minutes..
Okay, I'm back. Here are some things to read:
First there is Steve Gill's TeamGOP article on looming political shifts.
At this early point in the political season it looks likely that the Republican-Democrat split in the next legislature will remain the same, 18-15, giving Republicans a solid chance to elect a Lt. Governor from their party, most likely Senator Ron Ramsey. At that point, it is highly unlikely that deposed Lt. Governor John Wilder would desire to continue to serve in the Senate as a mere foot soldier and would probably resign rather than suffer the pangs of lost power.
That's interesting, but LeftWingCracker said pretty much the same thing on Friday:
[...]Wilder might well be toppled. Should that occur, don't be surprised if Wilder were to abruptly resign his seat; after 36 years as Lt. Governor, the longest unbroken term in the country, he may well pack it in and go home to Mason.
Hmm. When people this far left and right are seeing the same thing, it must be fairly large.
Now try Stacey Campfield's latest thoughts on education, in his response to the State of the State Address:
Vouchers?, more teacher accountability?, better school discipline?,Merit pay for teachers? More teachers in the classroom?
No, just lower the grade requirements to graduate. By the way math is hard. How about a course in Hip hop history .Good for an A and you can get the kids to stick around.
Samick Music is moving its headquarters to Gallatin. The .gov press release doesn't say how much the state is contributing. Perhaps guitar- and piano-makers don't warrant the same "relocation gestures" as auto manufacturers?
It got a little Stormie to our south in recent weeks.
Something I have meant to point out for a while: the recent position by Drew Johnson of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research. I want to understand this Copeland Cap more, and to have a meaningful, partisanship-null discussion on the points raised about how it can be and is perpetually overridden. For starters, I think we can find a lot of agreement on the idea that the food tax might not be the best way to fund even an appropriately lean state government. I'm sure there's disagreement, too. Let's talk about it.
February 7, 2006
"Quit Complaining - Run for Office"
Check out last week's editorial in the Bradley News Weekly. We need more public opinion statements along these lines.
A reminder's in there, too: the qualifying deadline for County races is next Thursday (2/16/2006) at noon.
God IS a Republican
I don't know why I doubted for so long. The evidence was right there in Reading, PA.
How Your Hamilton County Delegation Voted on the Ethics Bill
Since my hometown paper doesn't publish a news feed, I'll link to the Knoxville outlet (but note that it requires free registration or, if you're a Firefox user, BugMeNot): here are the House and Senate roll calls.
Gerald McCormick (R-26) - Present, Voted Yes
Chris Clem (R-27) - Present, Voted Yes
Tommie Brown (D-28) - Present, Not Voting
JoAnne Favors (D-29) - Present, Not Voting
Jack Sharp (R-30) - Absent (Rep. Sharp is undergoing medical treatment)
Bo Watson (R-31) - Present, Voted Yes
Ward Crutchfield (D-10) - Present, Voted Yes
David Fowler (R-11) - Present, Voted Yes
It's interesting that over half of Hamilton County residents had no representation in the House vote. (Stay with my math here: Bo Watson serves a small part of Hamilton County, and all of Rhea County. Three reps did not vote. Three out of "5 point something" is over half.) It goes without saying that Rep. Sharp's circumstances perfectly explain why I and my fellow District 30 citizens did not participate by proxy; but I guess I'll have to do some more research into why Reps. Brown and Favors did not vote on the bill. There were several "No" votes (ostensibly cast due to disagreements with portions of the legislation), but these are the only two non-votes that I saw in the lists.
UPDATE: Well, I can always depend on getting TFP links with my Dose, so I've read the article now, and with it the statement that Reps. Brown and Favors didn't think the bill went far enough. That still raises the question "then why not a 'No' vote?" The answer may be, very simply, that it was considered too risky to vote "No" on an ethics bill in an election year; but I think I admire those whose principled response included accepting that risk. It's difficult for me to see how abstaining doesn't under-represent one's constituency.
February 6, 2006
Symmetry in the Media
I've let several days pass before updating this from a draft entry, but I received great media audience satisfaction this past Friday when a story on the upcoming proceedings against former Cheney Chief of Staff, Lewis Libby, was reported by none other than NPR's Libby Lewis.
I can't verbally describe the inner peace and balance this pairing provided. (I must have residual synaptic grooves from that Webern analysis I did years ago.)
This assignment also raises the bar on reporters' connections with their content. For example, Anderson Cooper had better hope that there's a big story with the name Cooper Anderson in it sometime soon, else I'm tuning out. (Full disclosure: I never watch Anderson Cooper anyhow.)
Reeding Him His "Rights"
A group of 21 GOP State Senators -- nearly two-thirds of the entire Georgia Senate Republican Caucus -- signed a letter on Friday calling on former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed (R) to quit the open race for Lieutenant Governor. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Senators said Reed's "ties to Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff could jeopardize the re-election of Gov. Sonny Perdue and the rest of the GOP ticket." The group have all endorsed State Senator Casey Cagle (R), Reed's primary opponent.
This surely gives Cagle a boost, but if I were Reed I wouldn't back down just because a group of legislators wanted me to.
February 4, 2006
Spotlight on the Third Party/Independent Contingent
Call me biased, but I just can't seem to join either of the two dominant political parties in American politics. The Democrats have plenty of passion and concern, but seem to lack focus. The Republicans have solid ideas on some things, but their fondness for the radical religious right is a dealbreaker. Okay, so I just made a couple of the most sweeping generalizations of the year. Relax. The year's young.
The point I'm meandering toward is that there are alternatives. For me, the best one at the moment is independence. For other voters, there are established and growing electoral organizations that represent a somewhat wider band of variety than one will find in the main fare. (Rhetorical question: to which party do non-voters belong?)
One neat feature of these "third" parties [grrr - there can't be more than one "third"] is that they tend to focus on the electoral process in a much greater proportion than do Democrats and Republicans. The two major parties have mutually divided the political spoils for many decades, and have conveniently written laws that make merely presenting an additional alternative to voters (i.e., getting on the ballot) a daunting task. It's therefore natural that smaller parties try to boost their presence by using voter registration drives, ballot access petitions, and by encouraging their baseline membership to run for office. This in turn builds strong "bottom-up" networks and creates civic leaders out of "ordinary" people. Though they are barely detectible in national elections, many "third" party and independent candidates have been elected to local office, and in a few states have made noticeable forays into state politics as well.
At least two excellent repositories of news and information about non-major party candidates exist in the blogosphere. They are Austin Cassidy's Third Party Watch and Richard Winger's Ballot Access News. Another superb site is Ron Gunzburger's Politics1.com, which certainly offers more than "third" party coverage, but whose State and "P200x" pages exhaustively include these candidates. These guys operate on the national framework, whereas I bring it down a level and thus branch out to the full state legislature, and even to the county courthouse and city hall for my immediate area. I strive to offer to Tennesseans (and, of course, all other interested parties) some semblance of what the above three provide to the national audience. Dang, that's a tall order.
So far, only a few non-major party candidates have announced in Tennessee elections. Shirley Deakins is an Independent candidate for Hamilton County Mayor. Joe Dumas will be listed on the ballot as an Independent candidate for County Commission (District 2), but my understanding is that he is a Libertarian Party member. (Tennessee state law is a classic example of why Ballot Access News and other orgs were started. The 2 major parties have codified into law the masking of legitimate party labels as "independent" so there's no perception of an organized rival.) Two Independent candidates are running for the State House seat currently held by Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville, and a blogging official): David Garrett, Jr. and Cameron Broyles. UPDATE: I have also learned that the Constitution Party has a candidate in the 5th District Congressional race, whose name is Tom Kovach.
The extended portion of this entry documents part of my personal political journey.
About six years ago, I was politically befuddled. I had basically flipped a coin in the 1996 Clinton/Dole matchup, and sadly I can't remember what I did in the '98 midterm elections. I might not have had my registration up-to-date, even. So 2000 came, a top-ticket election with no incumbent, and I started paying attention. Or, it was late 1999. Whatever. I wanted more info on the 2 columns of primary candidates, and I had heard that (in)famous public interest lawyer Ralph Nader was running. I used some internet search engines (for you youngters, that's how we used to have to say "googled") and found a website that offered the best thing ever: it would rank the candidates for US President by their affinity to your answers on a modest questionnaire AND it would rank all the political parties (yeah, way more than two) in a similar fashion using a separate questionnaire.
The site's revelations were astonishing. (Funny, I never stopped to wonder whether they were in any way accurate.) I am neither (recent re-evaluations have confirmed) a Democrat nor am I a Republican. I "line up with" two parties, though, that seem even more incongruous than those. The quiz results told me that I should vote for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, but that I should be a member of the Libertarian Party. (Another cross-check: the "diamond" quiz touted by the Libertarian Party puts me well above the libertarian/statist line, AND somewhat to the left of the y-axis. I'm literally out in left field.)
I did help organize the first meetings of what became the Chattanooga Area Green Party, but for a variety of reasons I have migrated to an independent status. I vote for the person, or at least for the best possible person in the field. It's at least for selfish reasons that I aim to foster an electoral climate that's filled with quality choices. I want more people to run so that I (and you) have a better chance of voting for someone, as opposed to voting a party line, an "anybody but" stance, or specifically against a candidate. I want to make "career politician" an anachronism. Sure, we need stability; but we also need much greater turnover.
Well, that's about enough of this for now.
February 3, 2006
All Gums - Our new, toothless ethics bill
[Cross-posted from The Pulse, written well before the events of 2/2 and 2/3]
RE-FORMED ETHICS REFORM
Watching the special ethics session’s progress must be like watching the Wright brothers’ first few flight attempts – you know, any that weren’t so successful. The Governor’s panel made a really decent list of recommendations. It wasn’t perfect, but one might have thought that the General Assembly could have taken the panel’s work and improved upon it. Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be the case. A handful of reporters diligently mete out the bad news in story after story. The House committees have their extractors out and are ridding the ethics proposal of any teeth it may have had. You’ve probably read the same news as I have, too, that those the bill would regulate are writing these “disarming” amendments.
One highlight for me is the fundraising. See, the legislators knew it might be unseemly to stage big cash hauls the night before session started, even though that’s what they have done for years. (It’s against the law for them to accept these contributions during session.) They therefore held their caucus fundraiser parties in December, apparently so as not to draw attention. There’s a technicality in the ban, though, that doesn’t cover “special” sessions, only the “regular” ones. Oh, that makes sense. Lobbyists and their employers caught on to this legal loophole, and so, for the past couple of weeks during this special session on – what is it on, again? – legislators are being approached with bundles of cash. As soon as the regular session begins, such activity will be forbidden. Mark this in the “would be funny if it weren’t so sad” column.
Someone, somewhere uttered some words about District 2 School Board Member and Riverbend Festival chairman (and don’t forget the pizza) Chip Baker around the same time as words were said regarding State Representative Chris Clem’s decision to step down. What’s not known at this point is how real the possibility is that Baker is eyeing the District 27 seat. Red Bank Mayor Pat Brown and Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce officer Hayes Ledford have picked up qualifying petitions. There will undoubtedly be a spirited primary for this GOP-leaning seat, enough to maybe echo the scene when former Rep. Bill McAfee retired.
I had an informative lunch conversation with declared County Commission candidate Brian Caldwell recently. He stated that he is building a volunteer team and laying the groundwork for a very visible campaign in District 4. Caldwell will face the Democratic primary winner in the August election. The Democratic candidates are Warren Mackey and William Cotton, the latter of which goes on trial soon on charges of extortion. This election won’t be dull, I’m telling you.
Radio Interview Plans Staticky
Today we've seen conflicting reports regarding the programming on WDOD 1310 AM.
First, we heard from Stuart James that the station planned to cease its Air America programming as of Tuesday, February 7.
Now there is somewhat of a clarification posted on Chattanoogan.com. This article says that Air America is staying, but the local 8-9 hour is being supplanted by an extension of the Bill Press show, which currently airs from 6-8. It also says that this change is effective today (2/3/6).
That seems clear enough; but my confusion comes in the fact that I had been scheduled to talk with Stuart James on Tuesday, Feb 7. Now I don't know if his show will be on the air that day; or, if it will, if he still plans on having me as a guest. I've e-mailed Mr. James to inquire about this, and I will update this post with any developments in these plans.
So, to sum up: we lose more local radio programming (bummer); we keep Randi Rhodes' incoherent yapping (ick); and I don't know now if I'll get to promote TennesseeTicket.com on Tuesday (shrug).
Someone using a computer at the chillingly-named Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture hits this site fairly often. From the lack of a referring link, it would appear that the visitor has the page bookmarked.
Um, to whom it may concern: Welcome, and I don't really have much. :-)
Other frequent DC drop-ins include the US Senate Sergeant-at-Arms and the federal courts (gateway is in Brooklyn).
State Senate Scramble
Suddenly there are multiple reports and reactions to cover out of West Tennessee on activity around State Senate seats.
Senator Don McLeary (D-Humboldt) told the AP that he will make an announcement about his "political future" today at 6pm (EST). Most people infer that he's switching parties, because the Madison County GOP is set to announce "something big" at the same time and place. My favorite reaction follows.
So, I guess the question is, will the Gibson County Democratic Party be ready to switch affiliation as well?
If their support for McLeary is unbent by this announcement, that'd be the most honest thing they could possibly do. -- Andy Axel
Further to the southwest, 40-year legislative veteran Curtis Person, Jr. has announced that he does not intend to run for re-election in District 31. LeftWingCracker infers a gloomy portent for Shelby County:
Do you see NOW why there is a brawl over the seating of Ophelia Ford? This is about far more than Ford, it's about preserving what little power the state's largest county has left in Nashville. Given that the rest of the state has never forgiven us for the Crump years, Shelby County may soon get the Ned Beatty treatment from a GOP-led Senate.
More from Adam Groves, and Jeff Ward gives this a detailed look. After speculating on various potential candidates' chances and ending up marking Rep. Paul Stanley as a likely winner, Ward adds, "of course anything can happen in a Shelby County election."
Speaking of that, and of Ophelia Ford, the latest on that is that the State Senate will exercise caution in proceeding to unseat her. (BugMeNot required.) There's a connection here to the first story in this post, as Senator McLeary was the only Democrat to vote for Ron Ramsey's original resolution.
Just In from the "Duh" Desk
The Chattanooga Times Free Press carried a Knight Ridder story that says pets have emotions.
February 1, 2006
I am not at all surprised by the news that former District 1 City Council member John Lively has changed his mind, and is not running for County Commission, but instead is running for the State House seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Clem.
Still no word on Chip Baker's plans, but the Chattanoogan.com article referenced above does indicate Red Bank Mayor Pat Brown's decision not to run as a catalyst in John Lively's decision.